CompTIA Network+ Vs CCNA
For most people looking to get into cybersecurity and IT, there are two main options. To either get a CompTIA Network+ certification or a CCNA certification. Because both certifications are highly regarded industrywide and globally, it’s often difficult to cut clear distinctions and make a choice. So what are the differences between CompTIA Network+ and Cisco CCNA?
Aspiring IT professionals looking for a quick start through support roles will favor CompTIA Network+. Professionals looking for a network administrator in cybersecurity will find CCNA more suitable for their career path.
If you’re looking to make a decision on your first entry-level certificate choice, then read. This article will explore the six major differences and three main similarities between the two certifications.
Similarities between CompTIA Network+ and CCNA
You don’t need to have a bachelor’s degree or any formal prerequisites for either certification. Nonetheless, both CompTIA and Cisco recommend having experience in computer networking before you sit for the exams.
Both Network+ and CCNA exams use performance-based exams. Both have a certification cycle that’s valid for three years. After every three years, you have to retake the test. Both exams cost around the same price.
Both Network+ and CCNA are job role-based. They both offer practical skills and knowledge so network professionals can perform their jobs effectively.
Vendor-Neutral Certification Vs Vendor-Specific Certification
A career in IT presents an opportunity to work in a fast-changing environment full of new developments. In such a diverse industry, some employees prefer to have transferable skill sets that can be quickly made use elsewhere. However, some employees and employers prefer specialization and gaining deep knowledge in one set of systems.
CompTIA Network+, offered by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is the vendor-neutral certification offering IT professionals flexible skills to be used with any devices.
On the other hand, Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification offered by Cisco focuses on networking Cisco products and solutions.
It’s notable that employers across the world recognize both certifications as valid. Even though they aren’t interchangeable, they both offer a good foundation for a career in networking.
Specific Job Roles
A simplified difference between the two is the industry assumption that Network+ is for desktop support while CCNA is for network support.
CCNA certification places you at an associate level. CCNA prepares you for the job roles of network technicians and network administrators. As a CCNA, you need to:
- Know different network designs and topologies that create a secure IT network.
- Be able to describe how computer networks operate and how networked devices interact.
- Have the ability to verify, configure, and troubleshoot different network protocols.
- Be able to execute IP services to meet specific needs.
- Know how to implement countermeasures against security threats.
Network+ certification prepares you for roles in designing and implementing functional networks. As a Network+ holder, you can become a computer technician, network analyst, network field technician, or IT consultant. You will be able to:
- Manage and troubleshoot network infrastructure.
- Identify and troubleshoot connectivity issues.
- Install and configure different network devices.
- Understand fundamental cybersecurity concepts.
- Understand and describe common networking protocols.
Business Skills Vs Technical Skills
In general, CCNA is viewed as more valuable and holds a higher prestige in the employment market. However, Network+ can be a great option for business leaders who need more than a basic understanding of networking fundamentals.
The CCNA syllabus provides candidates with extensive technical skills to excel at managing Cisco network solutions. Network+ prepares IT professionals for the job market by equipping them with business skills such as incident management, change management, and troubleshooting.
Study and Preparation Timelines
Scheduling your exam and study time is an important step towards gaining IT certification. How long you should study for either CCNA or Network+ depends on your background knowledge and how well you test.
Even though CCNA is an entry-level certification, it is considerably more rigorous than the Network+ exam.
It’s recommended for CCNA candidates to spend at least 6 months studying for CCNA. The course will involve lots of video hours, practice exams, and practice building virtual labs. You can break your study times into 30-minutes sessions five times a week for 24 weeks.
For an IT candidate starting at the same level as the CCNA candidate and with the same background, the candidate can schedule 12 weeks of study with 30-minute study sessions five times a week. You’ll want to build your study plan right from the beginning.
The CompTIA exam takes 90 minutes with a pass mark of 720 measured along a scale of 100 to 900. You answer a total of 90 questions and some will be in multiple choice format. Other questions will be performance-based where you have to match questions or fill in blanks. The CompTIA Network+ exams covers 5 domains:
- Networking concepts covering 23% of the exam.
- Infrastructure covers 18%.
- Network operations cover 17%.
- Network security covers 20%.
- Network troubleshooting and tools cover the remaining 22%.
The CCNA exam lasts 120 minutes and tests the candidate’s knowledge of networking concepts. The content of the exams are:
- Networking fundamentals covering 20%
- Network access covering 20%
- IP connectivity covering 25%.
- IP services cover 10%.
- Security fundamentals covering 15%.
- Automation and programmability cover 10%.
Why Choose One Over the Other
Most networking professionals consider Network+ to be more basic while CCNA to be more robust and in-depth. CCNA covers Network+ topics in the first few study chapters and is far more difficult to pass exams.
Because most of the Network+ lessons are covered in CCNA’s first chapters, it is advisable to start by studying Network+ before advancing to CCNA. Plus, once you pass the CompTIA exam you’re likely to have an easier time studying and practicing for CCNA.
There are many considerations when choosing between CompTIA Network+ and CCNA certification. Top factors to consider include your background knowledge, career objectives, and your timeline for entering IT and cybersecurity. If viable, you can leverage the benefits of both certifications like many other professionals by completing both exams.